The Unsung Role: The Glue Guy

with guest Cody Sperber #MakingBank S4E38

There’s a role that you never really hear mentioned when it comes to business. You never see it in a job title, there are no training programs for it – because it’s really not something that can be taught – and it’s rarely, if ever, acknowledged at all. That role is the glue guy, the one who brings the team together, keeps everyone sticking to the mission, the one who gets everybody on board and driving forward. 

This is an incredibly hard job to do well, but it is a crucial role to fill on any team that wishes to have meaningful success. When tensions start to rise, it’s the glue guy who can smooth things over and get everyone back on the right path. If your team has someone who can fill this role, it will help you to remain strong and united. 

Have you ever been part of a company with a ‘toxic culture’? If you were, part of the problem was that your organization didn’t have a glue guy, or at least not a good one. When you don’t have someone who can help cultivate a positive work atmosphere, a culture that starts to head in the wrong direction can deteriorate quickly. 

So, given that there’s basically no training on this at all, how can you become a glue guy? Easier said than done, but there are a few central tenets that all glue guys must have. If you think this is part of your character, you may have an inner glue guy waiting to emerge. 

1. Pull Your Weight

There is no ‘glue guy’ role. No one is hiring you based solely on your ability to motivate people or talk to them. That has to be a secondary role. 

In order to be able to affect those around you positively, to be able to keep them motivated to work hard and work together with the rest of the team, you’re going to need to command respect. In order to do that, you need to be good at your own job first and foremost. 

No one respects someone who isn’t working hard in their own role, but if everyone sees that you are setting the right example, they will be much more willing to listen to you and follow your lead. 

2. Believe in the Why 

One of the central elements of getting the most out of your team is to help them believe in the mission and understand their role in it. A group of employees that doesn’t care about what they’re doing is a group that is bound to give up at the first obstacle. A team that is made up of employees who want it as bad as you do will always go the extra mile and will pick each other up when someone falters. 

If you’re going to get your team to believe in the ‘why,’ you need to start with believing in it yourself. What is your mission? Are you trying to save the world or just get rich? Both can be motivating factors, but you need to know what it is and build a team of people who share the same mentality. 

3. Put People in the Right Roles 

People are generally happy when they experience success. They’re happy when they see themselves thriving and growing. If you build a team of people who have clearly defined roles and make sure they’re properly able to execute those roles, you will have a team full of people who are eager to get to work every day and keep marching forward. 

As the glue guy, you need to have vision. You need to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, and that necessitates being able to identify talent and see the best way to put that talent to work achieving the right ends. Once you have a team firing on all cylinders like this, motivating them will be so easy it takes care of itself. 

4. Be Selfless 

The last but most important part of being a glue guy is to put everyone else before you. No matter how much someone likes their job, no matter whether or not they identify with the ‘why,’ if they don’t feel personally respected and liked, problems are going to arise. 

If you want to bring a team together, you need to care about everyone on that team individually, and you need to care about them not only as employees but as people too. Make it a personal mission to know everyone on your team. Know where they come from, what their dreams are, what they do in their spare time. Find what you like about them. Make sure that they know their wellbeing is a priority to you and that you will sacrifice your own time in order to always make sure they feel heard and cared about. 

The best way to achieve this? Don’t worry about what you can do to make someone feel respected; look inward and make sure you actually do care about and respect people. If you don’t, then maybe they’re not a good fit for your team. We can’t always control who we like, but we can make sure that we only recruit people that we have a natural connection with. By doing so we reduce the number of ‘culture’ related issues that arise, and the issues that do become much easier to deal with. 

You’re also going to have to accept that you’re probably not going to get very much credit for this role. It’s not going on your business card and probably not on your resume, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it. As the glue guy, you get to be at the heart of what’s going on in the company. You’re connected to everything, to everyone, and you build a real, human connection with your team that is responsible for setting the tone. If you’re truly a glue guy, the reward you get from that is better than any acknowledgement at all. 

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